I have repeatedly advocated for government providing an economic safety net and protecting civil liberties in the social arena. So I am acutely aware that illegal immigration creates the potential to force government to constantly increase in size and scope which is why I support minimizing illegal immigration.
Nevertheless in comparing the immigration reform plans of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump it is an inescapable fact that Trump approaches this issue with a non-American perspective.
Historically the United States has been a country fueled by immigrants. African slaves in the 16th-19th centuries, the Chinese in the 19th century, and Eastern Europeans in the early 20th century have all helped build this country’s wealth through their unpaid and lowly paid labor. In addition immigrants like John Jacob Astor and Andrew Carnegie fueled economic growth by incorporating innovations into the business cycle. Trump is essentially saying that the United States should not operate the way it always has; he is saying that the United States should not operate in the way that has made it prosperous throughout its history. Clinton on the other hand would like to perpetuate the system of allowing low wage workers to power our industrial economy.
In taking the position he has, Trump is also being extremely hypocritical. All of his grandparents were immigrants with nothing to offer other than their labor. But what was good enough for his ancestors should not be available to others according to Trump’s policy positions. Trump has also benefitted from undocumented, unskilled labor in his real estate business. But now that Trump no longer can profit from unskilled immigrant labor and has a political point to make, unskilled immigrants should no longer be allowed in the country according to his policy positions.
Clinton on the other hand is committed to continuing to allow immigrants to enter the country and keep our economy moving. Neither candidate is keen on illegal immigration but only Trump is attacking immigration overall saying it is a tool being used by other countries to hold back our national economy. Clinton on the other hand professes the positive potential of immigration.
Trump has repeatedly attacked immigration in general as a means of letting dangerous people in the country and allowing them to harm Americans. This is true but too focused in one area. Immigrants (illegal or not) are not responsible for most violent crimes in our country. Certainly illegal immigrants can be dangerous but they are no more dangerous as a group than American born citizens. By highlighting that segment of violent criminals, Trump turns a blind eye to domestic reasons for crime while insulting other countries unnecessarily. Clinton takes a different path. She does not use blanket statements to label immigrants from certain areas or of certain faiths as inherently bad
Both candidates want to stop illegal immigration. Both candidates want to address crime committed by immigrants. But only Clinton declares her willingness to maximize immigration as a tool to further our economy. Only Clinton refuses to engage in national and religious bigotry.
Clinton is looking at the bigger picture and the country would be better with her guiding our immigration policy.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.